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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Kohl Heaps Praise on 'Loyal Yeltsin'

German Chancellor Helmut Kohl paid glowing tribute to President Boris Yeltsin as areliable partner Tuesday and pledged support for Russia's efforts to achieve stability and democracy, saying that to do otherwise would be "idiotic" and "totally unacceptable."

Speaking at a press conference after winding up his official talks in Moscow, Kohl avoided any comment about opposition figures while throwing his weight firmly behind Yeltsin's campaign for re-election in June, declaring that the success of Russian reforms was crucial for the development of its relations with the West.

"We want Russia to go further along the path of freedom and democracy to a law-governed state and social and economic stability. That is our common goal," he said.

"I strongly disagree with those who say that it is senseless for Germany and other countries to invest, considering the nature of the problems facing Moscow and Russia, their hopes and funds, that the result would be negative in any case. I think this is an idiotic approach, which I find totally unacceptable."

Kohl emphasized that relations with Russia went well beyond personalities, but at the same time made a point of paying personal tribute to Yeltsin as a reliable partner and a man of his word.

"This was demonstrated particularly clearly by Russia's withdrawal of its troops from Germany, in keeping with our said Yeltsin had "recovered excellently" from the heart trouble that put him in the hospital twice last year and was keeping strictly to doctors' orders.

"My impression is that he is obviously tackling his tasks with extreme discipline, that he knows he does not have many chances ... if he doesn't stick with iron discipline to the rules he has set himself," said Kohl, who later flew to St. Petersburg before his scheduled return home Wednesday.

Summing up the chancellor's talks with Yeltsin, Foreign Ministry spokesman Grigory Karasin described it as a meeting of two leaders who knew each other well and who had amassed solid results from years of cooperation. He said Kohl had welcomed Yeltsin's decision to run for a second term as president as well as his statements about the irreversibility of reforms in Russia.

But the chancellor's praise for Yeltsin drew criticism from German opposition politicians, who warned him against putting all his eggs in one basket. Gerhard Erler, a Russia specialist for the opposition Social Democratic Party, said Kohl's backing for Yeltsin alone was a mistake, that could have "serious consequences for German-Russian ties," Reuters reported from Bonn.

Kohl said at his press conference that his decision not to meet the opposition was normal practice on an official visit.

"If we look into the future, after the elections," he said, "I think that whoever might become president would also be interested in good relations with Germany, wouldn't he?"

Kohl, 65, said it was not his business to talk about the candidates but stressed the importance of Russia's continuation of reform and the process of opening itself up to the outside world.

"It is not all the same to us if this country continues to live according to the old mentality and old structures, or if it considers itself to be part of the international community," he said. And when asked specifically about the prospects of working with a future communist Russian president, he made it clear that he did not think Yeltsin should be written off, despite his current poor ratings in opinion polls that show him trailing far behind Communist Party leader Gennady Zyuganov.

Kohl, speaking one day before the scheduled arrival in Moscow of the International Monetary Fund director Michel Camdessus who is expected to discuss the final details of a $9 billion loan to Russia to be released over the next three years, said Russian cooperation with the IMF was very important. "We will do everything possible for the world community to be involved, in a reasonable way, in assisting Russia."

Earlier Tuesday, Kohl had separate meetings with State Duma speaker Gennady Seleznyov and his Federation Council counterpart, Yegor Stroyev.

Seleznyov, a member of the Communist Party, said he had told Kohl about the correlation of political forces in the Duma, according to Interfax.

Stroyev told Kohl that Russia had to stick to its tough position against NATO enlargement.

At his press conference, Kohl said he favored the postponement of any further discussion of the NATO expansion issue until after the presidential elections in Russia and the United States."I urgently wish -- and I am joined by the majority of my colleagues in the West, including the U.S. president -- that this subject should be left alone, not indefinitely, but to ensure that discussion of the subject resumes in calmer times and in reasonable terms when there are no elections."